Heart-shaped rose-scented Valentine Biscuits with pink icing and sprinkles. How romantic is that?
I don't always bother to make something special for Valentine's day. I think I got out of the habit when work was very demanding and didn't ever get back into it. These days, though, I like the idea of celebrating small events with special food, so here we are with Valentine Biscuits.
Key Ingredients in Valentine Biscuits
Butter always tastes best and you know what's in it. Enough said.
Rice flour gives a soft texture to the biscuits. You could use semolina for a slightly crunchier biscuit but if you have neither, just use flour.
I'm rather partial to using rosewater, e.g. in Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble, and the idea of rose biscuits for Valentines Day appeals. If you don't have any, use any flavour that you like, e.g. orange or lemon zest or extract, or vanilla extract.
Dried egg white
Using dried egg white in the icing gives it more body, like Royal Icing but without the faff. If you really don't like the idea or don't have any, you could use water and icing sugar to make Glacé Icing
I try to avoid unnecessary colouring, so a little on a biscuit isn't going to hurt. You can buy natural colouring, as I have often done when the children were small, but do check what's in the colouring if anyone has allergies e.g. some contain nut extracts.
The idea of using sprinkles on an adult biscuit seemed a bit absurd but the choice is enormous so you can find something you like (or have left over).
Secrets of Success
Make a cheat's version of Royal Icing
One of the reasons I don't often ice biscuits is that Glacé Icing (icing sugar and water) can be runny and unstable in warm weather. Royal Icing gives a better consistency, but it seems a big effort for biscuits.
I've read about adding dried egg white to the icing to make a kind of faux Royal Icing, so I thought I'd give it a go. (Having got over my initial reaction of Who in their right mind would use dried egg whites?)
Having tried it, this has become my preferred icing for biscuits and cookies - definitely worth keeping sachets of dried egg-white in the store cupboard.
Enjoy decorating your biscuits
I have in my mind that you have to pipe an outline on biscuits and then fill it in with icing. In fact, I know this is the best way to do it, but I didn't and these aren't Instagram-ready perfect biscuits. But they are delicious and your loved one will thank you.
What I learned
- Sprinkles are very useful in disguising less-than-perfect icing-in-a-hurry
- Dried egg white is not a dodgy, alien substance that only inferior cooks use. It's actually ideal for adding to Glacé Icing to stop it spreading everywhere (because I really cannot bring myself to make Royal Icing from scratch for biscuits)
- Food colouring - especially two drops of a natural one - is not going to kill me or my loved ones, and looks rather pretty.
What equipment do you need?
Making Valentine Biscuits was also an excuse to buy a set of Tala heart cutters. I used the smallest size for my biscuits, and I'm thinking of uses for the others.
If you like this...
...Why don't you try:
For the Valentine Biscuits:
- 175 g plain flour
- 100 g rice flour
- 100 g icing sugar
- 175 g butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon rosewater (5ml)
For the icing:
- 300 g icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons powdered egg white (30ml or 2 sachets)
- 40 ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon rosewater (5ml)
- Red food colouring (optional)
- Line the baking sheet with a non-stick liner or baking parchment
For the biscuits:
- Put the flour, rice flour and icing sugar into the processor and blitz. Add the butter in pieces and process until you have a crumbly mixture. Add the egg and rosewater and process until the dough begins to form a clumpThe dough will be very soft at this stage
- Tear off a piece of clingfilm large enough to wrap around half the dough. Remove half the dough and wrap in the clingfilm, pulling it together into a flattened ball. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes and
- Set the oven to 180°C fan, gas mark 6
- When the dough has chilled, take one piece out of the fridge
- Cut another piece of clingfilm and lay it on your work surface. You are going to roll out the dough between the 2 pieces of clingfilm to avoid mess and using extra flour
- Unwrap the dough and tip it onto the clingfilm. Spread the wrapping over the dough. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ½cm
- Cut out heart shapes with the cutterI make about 15 biscuits, but it will depend on the cutter size
- The dough can be re-formed into a ball and rolled out again as needed but as it warms up the dough gets soft, so it may need another 5 minutes in the fridge if you handle it a lot
- Move each biscuit to the baking sheet. The mixture doesn't spread much so leave a small space between each
- Bake for 10-12 minutesThe biscuits will still be pale on top, but light golden underneath. They will firm up as they cool
- Leave on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool
- Repeat with the rest of the dough unless you are leaving it for later (see Note)
For the icing:
- Sift the icing sugar and dried egg white into a bowl. Mix the powders carefully with a spoon, to avoid sugar everywhereIf your icing sugar is new and looks okay, you may not need to bother to sieve it (I didn't, but I would for non-family guests)
- Mix the water and rosewater. Add the liquid to the sugar a little at a time and mix until it is spreadable, but not too runny. You may not need all the water
- Try icing one biscuit to see if the icing spreads well. Adjust the consistency if necessary and ice all the biscuitsAdd colouring at any point, a drop at a time. I coloured half my biscuits with 2 drops of red colour
- Add sprinkles while the icing is still wet
- Un-iced biscuits keep for a week in an airtight container
- Iced biscuits keep for a few days in an airtight container
- The uncooked dough will freeze for up to 3 months, wrapped in clingfilm and then sealed in a bag